By Brendan Farren, MotoCamping Editor ReasonsToRide.com
It’s fair to say that if you own a motorcycle you’ve heard of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota and Daytona Bike Week and like me, you’ve probably been to both or even one or the other. This year I was surprised and happy to learn Ohio has it’s very own bike week (yes Ohio) they hold in Sandusky, right on the shores of Lake Erie. Furthermore, they report that it’s the “Midwest’s Largest Motorcycle Event”!
Upon learning about the rally and also wanting to try out my new tent somewhere close to home, I hopped online to look into camping near there so I could check this event out. Any Michigander knows about Cedar Point in Sandusky so I figured the camping options would be plentiful. I clicked on a few websites and while most places seemed like fairly decent places for fun and families, I was not feeling the love or enthusiasm I was hoping to for Ohio Bike Week patrons, that is until I came across Crystal Rock Campground in Sandusky. This place looked perfect. I made my reservations online for a primitive tent site and began counting down the days.
In the days leading up to the event I did my standard bike checks and decided to replace my rear tire and change oil just to be on the safer side of this and not have to write about how I didn’t follow my own advice to you readers. (I have to throw in a thank you to Hunt’s Hog Shop in Lansing for coming through on the tire mount). The night before, I grabbed my gear and ‘Bones’ my plastic skeleton sidekick I take on most trips, and loaded the bike.
Crystal Rock Campground was less than a three hour ride avoiding the turnpike and was enjoyable to see some of Ohio’s smaller towns and farmland. I arrived at the campground a bit earlier than expected and a couple hours before official check in times. I went into the front office to see if my site was available and met the one of the owners, Heidi. Heidi was super friendly and informative about what was going on in the area mentioning repeatedly how happy they were to host bikers for the rally. She handed me a Thunder Roads Ohio magazine and pocket rally guide and told me some of my Thunder Road Ohio counterparts were staying onsite as well, albeit in the cabins glamping it up. Seriously though I was eager to meet the Ohio team. Crystal Rock Campground has ANY type of camp
site you are looking for from primitive tent like I almost always use, all the way up to cabins with ac and electric and everything in between. They have hot showers and the facilities are clean and maintained very well. You can buy firewood there and they have a small general store which has snacks, drinks, small souvenirs and even some often overlooked items like bug spray and shampoo etc. I was pleased to find things reasonably priced and not crazy high like you might expect to find at a camp store. Heidi got me all checked in and I rode to my site H5. I met my neighbor who was very outgoing and had been going to the event since it started years ago. I spent a couple evenings and a rainstorm just shooting the bull with him he was a treasure trove of information for the event and it was fun to run into him and his group in town at the event.
I have to say I was thoroughly impressed with my new tent. After losing my Vuz-Moto any tent I bought after would have some substantial shoes to fill. After some research I was debating on either the Lone Rider or the Wolf Walker. I like to have the bike “garage” on my tent as I have been in some serious weather including torrential rain and even snow. I don’t always use it but it is nice to have it in case. I opted for the Wolf Walker mainly for its price, at only a couple hundred bucks compared to almost $700 for the Lone Rider. Before I get any guff from you if you are looking at my pics, I understand the kickstand should be between me and the bike but for picture purposes I had it pulled in this way. The tent came in a quality bag that fit easily on my motorcycle. It was similar to my old tent so it set up easily. The Wolf Walker came with quality, color coded poles and had plenty of space for me, Bones and my gear for a week long adventure. What I was most impressed with though was how it held up to the major rainstorm right out of the bag. I typically treat my tents with waterproofing spray once a year, I did not get a chance to do that to the Wolf Walker before this outing. I got hit with STRONG rain on Wednesday and the tent handled it impeccably, not a single drop made it inside. On a side note I still plan on spraying it before my next usage just to give it an extra layer of protection. If you are in the market for a new tent for moto-camping and like to have the added space for your motorcycle I would urge you to strongly consider the Wolf Walker.
Ohio Bike Week is set up in downtown Sandusky on the shores of Lake Eerie near the docks for the Put-in-Bay and Kelley Island ferries a glance across the bay you can see the Cedar Point skyline. I met up with Derek my Editor-in-Chief at the party Thunder Roads Ohio hosted at Jimmy Bukket’s in Fremont, Ohio just outside of Sandusky and participated in all the events there including being the runner up in the (soon to be world famous) Lime Races, from there the fun only escalated the rest of the week. The rides during Ohio Bike Week were varied and plentiful. They included a winery tour hosted by Mad River Harley Davidson, Kelley Island runs with free rides for your motorcycle on the ferry and the popular Jesse James ride. Admittedly having the magazine people like Derek in the loop helped tremendously on not missing out on any of the activities. I got to meet and ride with Billy Grotto from Twisted Tea going to various Micky-Marts (Ohioans know) to promote Twisted Tea by having burn out competitions and indulging in a couple free samples. I got to meet riding legends like Bean’re, pronounced Beaner and his unforgettable boots and have a drink with him at Barrel House Saloon. The bike show hosted by Thunder Roads Ohio crew was not to be missed. Great bikes in all categories. I had the pleasure of meeting and getting to have pictures of my bike taken with the beautiful bike model Jenny and even got her to help me do some of the judging and hung at the show with her. The concert events were great! The stage near Barrel House hosted a plethora of talented acts ranging in genres. Jesse James and Jackyl kicked the headliner concerts off. While I enjoyed Jackyl I think I enjoyed Lita Ford the following night the most I had some fun dance partners for that one. I am definitely not taking anything away from Slaughter who played on the last night and the Progressive Insurance laser show after each concert was fun and done well.
I want to thank Thunder Roads Ohio crew Derek, Jason, Dave, Kim and the other Dave (sorry I know I am forgetting some) for showing me such a great time. One thing that stood out to me at Ohio Bike Week was a very different feel from other rallies like Sturgis and Daytona as far as the camaraderie. Ohio seemed to have a more personal, friendly and brotherly feel to it compared to the others I have been to which seemed more about saying you were there not as much as being a part of the brotherhood. I came away from the Ohio Bike Week experience feeling like I was part of something and not just in attendance. That includes the campground and everyone I met and spoke to while there.
Well done Ohio! Now if we could just do something about those Buckeyes. Until next time.
For more on Ohio Bike Week – check out www.ReasonsToRide.com/OhioBikeWeek